By Brian DiDonato
SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York–Equestricon, a horse racing convention, fan festival and trade show, will be held in Saratoga Springs next Aug. 13-15, it was announced Friday at a press in front of the Saratoga Springs City Center. The event, which will be held in the City Center, will feature a variety of attractions including panels and Q&As designed specifically for two-way interaction between speakers and attendees; product showcases and exhibitions highlighting both racing-related companies and Saratoga-based businesses; live music; a horse racing arcade; a fashion showcase; and meet-and-greets and autograph signings with past and current racing stars.
Equestricon is being spearheaded by Dan Tordjman, a correspondent for America’s Best Racing; and owner/breeders Kathryn Sharp and Justin Nicholson, founders of the Ninety North Racing partnership group.
Tordjman said: “We got together, and we came up with this idea: ‘Why don’t we create something that all fans, all horseplayers, and just people who have any sort of interest in racing–whether it be current owners, people who want to be owners, people who are interested in the breeding process and people who are just interested in the horse–let’s create something for them, where we can all come under one roof, and celebrate and share our love for the sport of horse racing.”
He added, “We’re going to create opportunities for fans, horseplayers and anyone with an interest in this game to actually have a meaningful discussion.”
Tordjman also noted that event will emphasize a commitment to Thoroughbred aftercare–the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance is Equestricon’s official charity partner.
Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen was also on hand for the announcement, and stressed the important relationship between the racing industry and her town.
“There are so many aspects of the racing industry that are important to Saratoga Springs, for instance: the fans–without the fans, we wouldn’t have a successful racing season,” she noted. “If you talk to any merchant on Broadway [in Saratoga], they’ll tell you, 25% of their business comes most likely during these six weeks [of the Thoroughbred meet]. This is very critical to us, to keep this strong. We can also talk about the breeders, and how important the horse farms are to this area; the horse sales, which bring in an economic vitality of their own; we can talk about how every horse sale and every horse owner is important, because they’re the ones putting on the shows. It’s not just fancy hats and nice dresses–this is a backstretch issue. We have 35,000 employees who are working with NYRA and in the horse racing industry. This is job creation. So, what [Equestricon] has done is encompass all of these elements into what’s important about horse racing.”
The Equestricon organizers have enlisted a diverse group of industry participants to serve on an advisory board. West Point Thoroughbreds’ Terry Finley and trainer Graham Motion, members of the board, both spoke Friday.
“We’re going to spread the wealth,” offered Finley. “We’re honored to be part of the business, and it’s important to spread that word across America and across the racing world. If you’re in the racing business, and it’s August, there’s a single place you want to be, and that’s right here in Saratoga Springs. It’s a perfect venue, it’s a perfect time to bring the industry together, and I think the focus on the fan is the key element of the entire plan.”
Motion added, “I just appreciate being included in this–I think it’s a tremendous idea. This is something we need in our industry. We need young fans, and it’s just natural to have it up here in Saratoga, where there’s probably the biggest concentration of not only fans, but racing personalities, including trainers, owners and jockeys. It’s a great opportunity to educate people, to meet people and I’m very excited to be part of it.”
Tordjman noted that the beginning of Equestricon coincides with the final day of Fasig-Tipton’s New York-bred Preferred Yearling Sale, and said talks have begun to coordinate the event with both the sales company and the New York Racing Association.
More details about the event will be posted as they become available on http://www.equestricon.org/.